Wildcats to play Halloween doubleheader

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Japan Stepney (back) guards Marc Rogers (front) during a scrimmage

Japan Stepney (back) guards Marc Rogers (front) during a scrimmage

Xander Fu

Xander Fu

Japan Stepney (back) guards Marc Rogers (front) during a scrimmage

Clayton Huber and Hanson Lee, Staff Reporters

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Xander Fu
Japan Stepney (back) guards Marc Rogers (front) during a scrimmage

Women’s basketball v. Northwest at 5 p.m.

CWU women’s basketball will begin their season against Northwest University (NU) Oct. 31 at 5 p.m. Coming off last season with a 15-15 record  the team is looking forward to Oct. 31 for a fresh start.

Last year, CWU advanced to  the second round of the GNAC tournament. They upset Simon Fraser in the first round to advance further than ever under former coach Jeff Harada.

In the second round, the Wildcats fell to  Western Washington University (WWU) ending their season with a 73-61 loss.

The Wildcats are bringing back leading scorers Taylor Baird, Jasmine Edwards and Sadie Mensing. CWU is returning 14 of the 15 players from last year, losing only one senior. This year’s roster features only two freshmen.

“Seeing as we only graduated Kortney Grattic, we have everyone else back. We don’t know who the starters this year will be yet but everyone has come back from the summer better than we left last spring,” senior forward Taylor Baird said.

Baird, who transferred from Southern Utah before last season, is a senior forward who lead the team in scoring and rebounding last season. She averaged 12.8 points per game and 8.4 rebounds. She also started every game last season.

While the game is still about a week away, CWU is preparing for their first game and the long season.

“Going into this first game, we all want to be able to put what we have been working so hard for in preseason and in practices into play and to see how we do against different teams,” Mensing said.  “Just going out there playing hard, playing together, having fun and coming out with a win is always the goal.”

Mensing, a junior guard averaged 9.3 points per game 3.1 rebounds per game and 1.8 assists.

This season also brings changes in the form of a new coaching staff. Randi Richardson was named head coach of the team in April of this year. She was the assistant coach for two seasons before landing her new position in the wake of Jeff Harada’s departure.

“We played Northwest two years ago when I was an assistant in a similar type of exhibition match up,” Richardson said.  “Their team had a talented young core who have now become a group of talented upperclassmen. This game will be a great open test against an experienced group.”

NU isn’t in the same conference as CWU, so the game won’t count to GNAC records, but will still be an important matchup. NU also had a 15-15 record last year, but were eliminated in the first round of their divisional playoffs.

“I think our team is looking really strong. Everyone on our team is working hard and buying in,” Mensing said. “Being under a new coaching staff we have gone through some changes but we just keep getting better everyday.”

“We haven’t spent any time on our game plan for Northwest yet,” Baird said. ”We’re just focusing on ourselves and learning to play with new expectations and a new coaching staff.”


Men’s basketball v. Northwest at 7 p.m.

CWU men’s basketball gears up to face off against Northwest University (NU) in their opening exhibition game on Tuesday, Oct. 31. Coming off of last season, the Wildcats are headed into this season with goals they want to accomplish as a team and a plan to reach them.

“We have high expectations. I think every year, our goal is to win a GNAC championship and go to the national tournament,” said assistant coach Drew Harris. “This year we think that we have a great chance. We have five seniors and 11 returners… the most seniors and returners that we’ve had in while.”

Along with these expectations for the season comes a sense of urgency to improve upon what the team struggled with last season. The Wildcats had a 14-12 record at the end of last year, falling just shy of a postseason berth.

“Overall, we want to get better defensively and with rebounding,” Harris said. “These have been our true keys as far as improvement for this year, in comparison to last year.”

With the amount of players rejoining the team for this year, veteran players, such as senior guard Jawan Stepney, reiterated the importance of this year’s season and the goals that this team has going into their first matchup against NU on Tuesday night.

“Our goals are to just get better every day and to focus on getting all of the new guys caught up with everything, and to just continue working hard,” Stepney said. “We still have a sour taste in our mouths from last year, so coming into this year strong is our main goal.”

As an individual, Stepney also hopes that his efforts this season and in their upcoming matchup against NU, will have a positive impact on the team moving forward.

“My plan is to get everybody caught up as individuals and to hold everybody accountable for their actions,” Stepney said. “Everybody needs to work hard and push themselves every day and continue to get better because that’s how we get better as a team, and that starts with me leading and pushing everybody.”

Senior center Fuquan Niles has high expectations for the team. Niles hopes to have an impact on the team’s upcoming performance against NU, as well.

“I just want to help out my team as much as possible,” Niles said. “I know that I’m one of the bigger people on the team.”  

Niles, who has been with the Wildcats for two seasons this year after transferring from North Idaho College in 2016, averaged 9.5 points and 8.3 rebounds per game last season.

With the new season in mind, the Wildcats have also introduced some new talent to the team, bringing five new freshman onto the team this season in hopes that some of them will be able to make an impact down the road.

“Every year, when we bring freshman in, we don’t tell them that they’re redshirting coming into the season,” Harris said. “I think some of our freshmen could definitely get out there and impact the game a little bit right now.”  

The hope is that these freshmen will eventually become difference makers on the court at some point in the future.  

“We know what we had going last year, and hopefully we can bring [the freshmen] in and have them build with us as one,” Niles said. “At some point, we’re going to leave and we’ll want them to take over and keep things going.”

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Wildcats to play Halloween doubleheader